Hither Green Pensioner Lawfully Killed Armed Burglar

3 May 2019, 07:53 | Updated: 3 May 2019, 07:54

Richard Osborn-Brooks stabbed Henry Vincent with a knife in Hither Green, south-east London.
Richard Osborn-Brooks stabbed Henry Vincent with a knife in Hither Green, south-east London. Picture: PA

A pensioner who killed an armed career criminal who broke into his home acted lawfully, an inquest has ruled.

79-year-old Richard Osborn-Brooks stabbed burglar Henry Vincent in Hither Green, south-east London, in April last year.

Vincent was armed with a screwdriver when he broke into the south-east London home of Mr Osborn-Brooks in April 2019.

The inquest was told that Vincent was wearing a balaclava when he demanded money from the homeowner just after midnight on April 4 2018.

The pensioner got a knife from his kitchen and told Vincent that his weapon was "bigger than yours". 

Mr Osborn-Brooks told Southwark Coroner's Court the 37-year-old had threatened him with a screwdriver, then "rushed forward" and "ran into the knife I was holding".

"I thought he would look at my knife... and he would take the opportunity to run out the front door which was open.

"He definitely didn't try to get out of the front door, he came towards me," Mr Osborn-Brooks said.

Senior coroner Andrew Harris recorded a verdict of lawful killing on Thursday.

He said: "The householder stabbed Mr Vincent in his own home on April 4, 2018 just after midnight after he and another intruder had threatened him in an attempted burglary.

"The interaction that led to the stabbing was the simultaneous approach of the deceased with a small screwdriver and the forward movement of the householder with a kitchen knife, leading to moderate force being applied by the knife to Mr Vincent's chest, and its penetration.

"The householder was terrified and asserted he acted in self-defence after an assault by the other intruder.

"He was close to, but not obstructing, the exit by the intruder.

"In considering the force it would seem that given there is two intruders at night, one with a weapon, the use of moderate force would seem to me to reasonably be proportionate.

"It seems to me the combination of unpredictability and fear were factors that have to be taken into account considering the proportionality of the force that was used."

A coroner ruled Henry Vincent was lawfully killed at the Hither Green house.
A coroner ruled Henry Vincent was lawfully killed at the Hither Green house. Picture: PA

Vincent from Lime Road in Swanley, Kent was found to have recently used "both cocaine and heroin."

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